Tupelo has a marathon so predictably hot and humid… they named it twice! Just kidding but seriously they know it will be bad so they start it at five in the morning. That’s a little early and dark. Yes it can be hard to see where you are going but in reality, if it could be done earlier it probably should.

I arrived in Tupelo before the rest of my traveling buddies and went straight to the expo. The expo was held in a local running store and seriously if it not a big city marathon where they can afford the room of a convention center? These are the best! You can give some money to a local running store and pick up supplies. You can see some of the local flair. You can meet the local runners. I hate to miss an expo and this was pretty nice – really! It was a little crowded and that was a downside but the kindness and greatness of the volunteers was infectious!

Scott showed up and we made a side trip to Elvis’ birthplace. It was touristy. The hotel was nice and then I made sure to reach the pre-run carbload the night before to meet the rest of our group – the Meowiacs! The Meowiacs are a group of three marathon running girls from around the Indiana area who have become quite a sensation in the marathoning world lately. We somehow got involved into a facebook conversation and the five of us (with Scott) arranged going to Tupelo (one of us was even the last entrant) and a little bonus trip as well but more on that later.

The dinner was going fine if not a little boring and then when the girls showed up – it was like the party kicked into action! Not even by their own choice they were pulled all over the place as person after person asked question and conversations that could last seconds lasted minutes. I could learn a lot from talking from the Meowiacs. They look you in eye and keep their attention on you the entire time. They do not falter in the conversation. They purred about and when we all finally sat down to eat it was several minutes later. When food was over it was time to picture take and if you go to a marathon, the pictures do not start or stop on the course! The pictures never stop once you reach town – trust me.

Dinner ended but the photos were far from over as the unofficial leader of the Meowiacs Michelle ended up getting out pink tutus, cat masks, wigs and Elvis touches for the five of us to take pictures! We were up far later than any of us wanted to be snapping shots and adding touches here and there. Bed still came before ten and it was nice to catch up with Scott who I had not run with for a year – exactly a year Labor Day weekend the year before. We woke up early, made out way to the furniture factory the run started at, and chatted it up with everyone before the run. There were some more pictures and everyone was in a great mood.

Tupelo was such a nice and casual affair. Everyone waited until five minutes before to walk to the start line. We took off without a starting pad just everyone going by gun time. Flashlights were recommended but not enforced and we took off into the dark of night to come out in the light. I am not going to lie. Running at night in the dark can cause issues. You really have no fast you are going. You really cannot see that far in front of you. And when you are running a course you have no idea which direction to turn! I took at least two wrong turns and 20 wrong steps before being righted.

And it really wasn’t that bad. I knew I was a little slow for my pace and would have liked to have gauged it but I felt… not great. My stomach was giving me problems and I was burping up fish oil which was odd? I only take that at night! My legs felt fine. My breathing was not the best. And my heart was awful. It felt like constant heart palpitations which meant heartburn as well. The odd part? I had tried to travel healthy. I was off and I knew it as everyone who caught me even at Mile 4 was out of sight in five minutes.

I am used to people speeding off but usually not until Mile 15 and the earliest it had happened before was Mile 9. I was not trying to dwell on it and just thought they may have been halvers? You never know what distance the other person was running? Besides, here comes another fish oil memory. How did I screw that up?

The course was an out and back and one goes back the same way they came so by the halfway point I was at 1:40. I was slow, well for me. I ran past most of my friends by Mile 15 and still was feeling awful to stop it and walk it for a little bit. After that, I ran a little bit and then walk and run and walk and run and then hill I had to walk and then breathing issues and then excuses. Bee! Run! He’s gone walk again. Bee! Run! Run! Run! Walk again he has to be gone. Bee! Just run for now. Water station. Walk out the water. Run lightly. Study the clock. Will I make it under 4? Yes. Easily.

It was so awful and it was only Mile 20. By this point the legs were still great but the breathing was gone. I was now aware the humidity was 97% but it wasn’t incredibly hot. There was a breeze and the sky was cloudy. This was not that bad!v What was my issue. That was when Michelle of the Meowiacs caught me. I convinced myself to run it with her and that was when I knew I was screwed. I could not keep up – no way. I had to stop and walk. What happened? I ran a 3:15 or so in Green Bay when the humidity shut down a marathon?

Then a really great thing happened. A group of four guys came up to me and I knew one of them by his 50 Sub 4 hat – I had met him that morning. They were not having the best race either but the four hour goal was still there and that was all that mattered. They slowed down with me and ran the run when I could and walked with me when I was out of hope. They were the best support I could ever have. I hope to see them all again and of course I took a picture with them. With them, I was able to enjoy the last five miles and jog it in in style. They made a bad race tolerable.

We got down to the final .1 and they wanted to run it in together. I just wanted my time to be right so while they stepped aside I ran through the line and came in around 3:54. I’ll take it but I do want to improve my Mississippi time and have heard nothing but great things about Mississippi Blues!

I got done, congratulated Michelle, and went to get some sit down. My right leg hurt more than I wished it did. My breath was still ragged and I never figured it out until I got back to the hotel. I took a night dosage of my pills! I never took my morning Claritin! In Kansas a year and a half ago I had the same issue and talked around. I was told to look into allergy medication and never had a problem until you guessed it… that day!

It was a mistake that turned into a bad run. But as I walked out of the hotel and went into the sunlight to see Scott again and take some more pictures with the Meowiacs I was in a good mood. Three of us won age group awards. The support was great and even though it was on roads the drivers were very well behaved. The medal was awesome and the t-shirt was original. And the worst part? It was only just beginning! Scott was going upstairs to clean up and go home but the other four of us had a part two to go. Coming up… THE DOUBLE!


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